By GREG AUMAN
© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 8, 2001
When the Hernando Youth League's Dixie Debs won a state title last month, they outscored their opponents 80-14. This week's Dixie World Series in Spartanburg, S.C., hasn't been nearly as easy, but the Debs stayed alive Tuesday with a 4-3 victory over the hometown Spartanburg team.
"This one could have gone either way. I need some Tums," said Debs coach Dave Rags, whose team led by one with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the last inning.
Two key plays followed. First baseman Carol Russell fielded a grounder and threw home for the second out. Shortstop Christen Baldwin then fielded a ground ball and threw to third baseman Scottisha Scrivens for the final out.
"If you want them to hit the ball, those two are who you want them to hit it to," Rags said.
With Rags unable to use Baldwin, who threw a shutout Monday, he got a big performance from Carolyn Gant. She went the distance for the victory.
"She never lost her focus on the mound," Rags said. "She just stayed the course."
Hernando trailed 2-0 early but struck for three runs in the fourth. Scrivens led off with a double, advanced on a single by Chelsea Marlow and scored on a double by Whitney Griffin.
Krystal Rags followed with an RBI groundout, and Liz Wallace gave the Debs the lead with an RBI single.
In the sixth, the Debs loaded the bases with no outs but couldn't score. An inning later, they cushioned their lead when Russell walked, moved to third on a Scrivens single and scored on a bunt by Marlow.
That run proved crucial as Spartanburg used an error and two hits to pull within a run with one out in the seventh. This time, it was the home team that left the bases loaded as Hernando escaped with an emotional victory.
The Debs, who won a national title two years ago and finished third last summer, are one of four teams remaining. They will play at 6:30 tonight against the loser of Tuesday's late game between Virginia and Alabama. With a win tonight, the Debs will have a chance to play for the title Thursday.
All games are broadcast locally on WWJB-AM 1450.